Arsenal could be without as many as seven first-team players for a midweek London derby clash with Chelsea after three more casualties appeared to be added to a lengthening injury list before and during Sunday's (31 December) contentious draw at West Bromwich Albion.
The Gunners were already without Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud for that final outing of 2017 at The Hawthorns in addition to long-term absentee Santi Cazorla, while Mesut Ozil was a surprise absentee with what the club described as a "slight" knee problem.
Speaking before the 1-1 tie that saw Jay Rodriguez's controversial 89th-minute penalty cancel out a late deflected free-kick from Alexis Sanchez, manager Arsene Wenger, taking charge of a Premier League fixture for a record 811th time, told Sky Sports that, from what we had heard, the German playmaker had only a "little chance" of being fit for the visit of Chelsea.
If that was not bad enough, Arsenal were also forced into a first-half change at West Brom as Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaced Sead Kolasinac eight minutes before the interval. The latter, who is preferred as a wing-back when Wenger plays a three-man defence but is not particularly well-suited to a four-man backline, sustained a heavy blow after being caught by the trailing leg of Gareth Barry.
With both Monreal and Kolasinac potentially sidelined, fears that Laurent Koscielny could also be absent against Chelsea were sparked after he made way for captain Per Mertesacker with less than 20 minutes remaining. Although the French international did not seem to be struggling with any noticeable issue, he does require daily treatment on a chronic achilles condition and the fact that he was taken off in a straight swap with the game poised at 0-0 does not bode particularly well.
An injury update was not immediately forthcoming from a furious Wenger after the West Brom game. Instead, he criticised Mike Dean's decision to award a spot-kick for an accidental handball by Calum Chambers and slammed the standard of "untouchable" top-flight referees.
The long-serving boss also railed against the fixture scheduling over the festive period, bemoaning the fact that struggling West Brom and now Chelsea had more time to prepare for matches against his fifth-place side.
He also reiterated that there was no team spirit issue at Arsenal as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the futures of Sanchez and Ozil and gave short shrift to the opinions expressed by club icon Thierry Henry on the matter.
"We play on Wednesday night," he said, per football.london, when asked if Sanchez had played his last game in Arsenal colours. "I have spoken many times about that, I'm not ready to talk about that some more."
Pressed if the injuries sustained by influential Manchester City attackers Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne earlier in the day at Crystal Palace altered the situation somewhat, he replied: "I have given you my answer many times, I don't see why I should come back on a subject we have talked about 155 times."